Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why Plagiarism Happens - Top 5 Reasons

Plagiarism has occurred for thousands of years in various forms, although it wasn't until recently that it became a dangerous problem. Online plagiarism has become rampant, difficult to detect and threatens the intellectual property of numerous individuals and businesses. Just as physical property is protected by our laws, ideas also are meant to be guarded by our legal system. Unfortunately, the theft of an idea is far more difficult to track then stolen physical property. Our ability to detect and prevent plagiarism is extremely important for various industries, including publishing, music, research, education, media and finance.

I'd like to kick off this post by getting to the root of the problem: why does plagiarism happen in the first place? What are the top 5 reasons that cause plagiarism? Answering these questions can help us understand where to look for plagiarism and allow us stop it at the source. I'd also like to take a look at the current cutting-edge technologies that are helping us detect and prevent plagiarism. Feel free to join in the conversation and add in any relevant comments.

1. They don't know what plagiarism is.

Many people have heard about plagiarism and know it is a bad thing, but aren't quite sure what it really is. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary's definition of, to "plagiarize" :

* to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
* to use (another's production) without crediting the source
* to commit literary theft
* to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

Essentially, plagiarism is stealing someone's ideas and presenting them as your own.

2. They don't know how to properly use citations.

One way that plagiarism is easily preventable is through the proper use of citations. Crediting another author or creator with their own ideas goes a long way in using their ideas to further your work. Some simple research on how to properly site another author can be the difference between plagiarism and attribution.

3. Not thinking ahead - lack of time & resources.

Much of the time plagiarism boils down to a person not thinking ahead and leaving something to the last minute. If a research paper has a next-morning deadline and no progress has been made until the night before, a person may convince themselves that plagiarizing is their best option.

4. The internet makes it easy.

The internet makes it extremely easy to find and use other people's work. It's as simple as copy-and-paste. This 'low hanging fruit' causes many people to plagiarize without thinking about the legality of the act.

5. They don't think they'll get caught.

Many people who plagiarize use the 'many fish in the sea' theory- rationalizing that their chances of getting caught are extremely slim due to the vast number of people who are committing the act. The truth is, many people do slip through the cracks and get away with plagiarism.

This reality is changing however, as new plagiarism software solutions are pushing the technological boundaries on detecting and preventing plagiarism. Top of the line plagiarism software allows individuals and businesses in various industries to efficiently search the web for duplicate content. These solutions provide the tools to detect even the slightest instance of plagiarized content on the internet. As this technology continues to advance, far fewer people will get away with an act of plagiarism.

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